A Look Back
I, too, have never written a picture book and probably never will. But I enjoy and admire the many different kinds of picture books that are available and appreciate all the work that goes into them. In her post, Marilyn talked about picture books from her childhood. Today I’d like to tell you about three of my children’s favorites and another book, related to picture books, that I think is very interesting.
Many years ago, in the mid 1960’s, at the old Pickwick Bookshop (before it was B. Dalton’s), I found a book on the bargain table that became a much-loved favorite of my children. It was called “Caroline and Her Friends” (Caroline was a child but the friends were various cats and dogs created to be about her size.) Their many “adventures” included swimming, skiing, going on a picnic, playing games, and other everyday and not-so-everyday things. I don’t remember the author /illustrator’s name, but the book was translated from the French. However, little of the text was ever read, as my three kids spent hours pouring over the enchanting illustrations, choosing to be different characters and putting themselves in the pictures. This book was literally “loved to death” and mended many times with masking tape. We still have this beaten-up book, and my daughter has tried many times to find another copy on used-book websites, EBay, etc., but to no avail. Besides giving countless hours of enjoyment, this book has become part of our family lore.
Around that same time, I bought two books by illustrator Gyo Fujikawa…a board book called “Babies,” and a version of “The Night Before Christmas.” These books also were “loved to death,” and I actually had to purchase a second copy of “Babies.” In both books, Fukijawa’s darling, chubby babies are irresistible. She also did charming illustrations of babies and children, at the time, for a women’s magazine, Family Circle, I think. Amazingly, a quick check of amazon.com showed that these books, along with many other by Gyo Fujikawa, , are still in print and available! These three books are good examples of three things, I believe, picture books are meant to do…give enjoyment, stimulate the imagination, and inspire a life-long attachment to books.
Another truly delightful book (although not a picture book) that I recently came across and enjoyed tremendously is “Down A Sunny Dirt Road” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, creators of the wonderful Berenstain Bears, also beloved by my kids. Published in 2002, this autobiography book takes us behind the scenes with these writers/illustrators. They worked for a number of popular magazines and then began their careers, along with Dr. Seuss, at Random House at the time when RH was just starting its I Can Read Series. Of course, the publishing world has changed tremendously since that time, but I found it fascinating to read about “how things were then” and about their creative processes. I highly recommend it.
Next time I plan to talk more about many of my other favorite contemporary picture books.
Contributed by Marjorie Flathers